With school out and the summer months hitting in earnest, Major League Baseball teams are battling in their divisions to determine their ability to contend with the trade deadline approaching within a couple months.
Unfortunately, teams are grappling with the injury bug, which has affected several throughout the league. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest injuries and other stories from around MLB this week.
Pair Of Aces Hit The Shelf
Both the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox are grappling for relevance within their respective divisions, but both of them suffered impactful injuries to their pitching rotations this week.
For the Cubs, they announced that lefty Justin Steele was hitting the injury list due to a forearm strain in his throwing arm. While an MRI did not show any structural damage, any time that there are issues with forearms it is bad news.
In 12 starts this season, Steele is 6-2 with a 2.65 ERA, 1.059 WHIP, and he has 58 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched. His success has propelled the Cubs to a 26-32 record, good for third in the NL Central. Sitting 5.5 games back of the Brewers, though, losing Steele will hamper the Cubs chances of winning the division, which currently sit at +600.
For the Boston Red Sox, they also suffered an injury to their rotation as Chris Sale was put on the injured list with shoulder inflammation. In 11 games, Sale has been strong this year, going 5-2 with a 4.58 ERA.
The Red Sox are 30-29, but that above .500 record still drops them to dead last in a loaded AL East. As a team, they are +10000 to win the division, the worst of the five teams.
Hicks Signed, Mullins Hits IL
The Baltimore Orioles gained one outfielder this week, but they lost another. The team signed Aaron Hicks after he was released by the New York Yankees; however, the team has also lost Cedric Mullins to a groin strain.
In 76 combined at bats between New York and Baltimore, Hicks is hitting just .211/.294/.276 with a home run and five runs batted in. To his credit, in his first three games with Baltimore, he went three for seven.
Unfortunately for Baltimore, the team lost a more valuable piece in Mullins. It is unclear if Mullins will be out for too long, but the Orioles will certainly miss his .263/.356/.479 slash line with eight home runs, 39 runs batted in, 26 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases.
At 37-22, the Orioles are off to a sensational start. They sit second in the AL East, just four games behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays. The Orioles are +1300 to win the division, fourth-best in the AL East.
Cortes To Hit IL
Another starter that appears headed to the IL is Yankees’ lefty Nestor Cortes. It appears that Cortes is waiting to undergo an MRI, but he has been dealing with a shoulder issue that will at least knock him out for a couple of starts.
In 11 games this season, Cortes is 5-2 with a 5.16 ERA. That is a far cry from his 2.44 dominant ERA from last year, but he has still been effective for a Yankees team that is 36-25, good for third in the AL East.
Despite their current standings, the Yankees have the second-best odds of winning the division at +390 and the fifth-best odds of winning the World Series at +1100.
Guardians Designate Plesac
In a somewhat surprising move, the Cleveland Guardians designated righty Zach Plesac for assignment in order to make room for righty Triston McKenzie to return from the 60-day injured list.
For Plesac, he had an ugly start to the season, going 1-1 with a 7.59 ERA in five starts with Cleveland before being sent down. Just two years ago, in 2021, he went 10-6 with a 4.67 ERA in 25 starts, but his time may be limited now in Cleveland.